View Full Version : A little info for AWA

12-12-2005, 05:26 AM
Hi Everyone,

After gathering info from this forum, I think it's time to return something.

Before you go further, please note that I am an international student whose 1st language is not English. So what I write today might not suit those who speak English as their 1st language.

A little more about me, I have finished general GRE several months ago. My verbal score is quite bad (less than 400). But my AWA score is 5.5. This proved something. It proved that you don't need the fancy words to impress the essay raters. With a tiny vocab database in your brain, you can "hypnotize" them...


These are my strategies when I practice:

1. I always aim my essay to be 520-550 words. The longer (perhaps) the better. But you should at least make it hit 500. Too short will be blunt even though you can convey all info you need. But who wants to read the blunt essay.

2. I avoid using flashy words. Actually I am not capable to use them :D I think this might be the case for those whose 1st language is not English. It's risky to use the fancy words with a good purpose but it turns out to be awkward and perhaps mislead the raters. Clear and concise is perfectly fine. The formal words you found in the daily articles are sufficient.

3. I try to build up at least 5 paragraphs. 1 for intro, 3 for contents and the last one for conclusion. You might get an extra one for the content, it's a bonus. It's called "fve-paragraph essay" which north american students practice since they were in the grade school. We can use that too...And it works.

Alright, I will continue if I found that people are interested in what I write..
Good luck to all of you

12-12-2005, 06:43 AM
Thanks for the info gre hunt!
Your further advice will be appreciated.

12-25-2005, 10:19 PM
Hi again.
Although there is only one response, I think I 'd better go on with it.
These are my strategies when I practice (II):

4. Never use templates suggested in practice books out there. I believe that many students do that. It's fast and easy but it makes your essays very boring. Imagine how many essays a rater has to read. No matter what the topics are, you guys begin with the same sentence, proceed with the same style, use the same conjunction and even end with the same phrase. I'm sure the rater won't be impressed. So...you should come up with your own template. Make it flexible that you can slightly alter for each topics......So..Forget about those templates....Trust me...

5. Memorize flexible examples. Well...ETS clearly said that they wanted to read the examples in your essays. So why not have them ready in your brain rather than give a few sec-min to come up with examples which might not best fit because you will be nervous. For example, I always have " Alexander Flemming who discovered Pennicilin" It could be an example of serendipity, effort (working hard), impact to the modern world, smart man etc. So have your own flexible examples ready. Few are fine...

6. For the "issue" essay, I always stand on the point where I know I lean on one side but I can reach another. Some people love to pick left or right. I think it's more difficult to write and convince those raters. Keep in mind that they pick side too even though they are not supposed to. Besides, to pick a definite choice sometimes make you offense another side. At least, if you lean on one side while aware of good thing of another side will provide you more things to write, right? That's my trick. But if you feel comfortable and confident to pick a definite side, feel free to do it.

Let's see how people find this info useful.....

Good luck:)

12-26-2005, 04:04 AM
Great post GRE HUNT!

12-26-2005, 08:55 AM
Excellent post! :)

01-09-2006, 04:49 AM
Thanks Hunt..that really is helpful for a starter like me in AWA.

02-03-2006, 11:40 AM
Big thanks, GRE Hunt !!
You greatly inspire and enlighten an international student like me :)

02-04-2006, 05:31 PM
Thank you very much and congratulations on your high AW score:)

Can you post some of your essays to more concretely exemplify your points? Sincerely thank you~

03-06-2006, 03:06 PM
Amusing read there, though I do have reservations about its effectiveness...

03-07-2006, 09:52 AM
Good one gre_hunt Best of luck for ur future

03-14-2006, 11:43 AM
Good one gre_hunt .... keep em coming..

03-20-2006, 03:51 PM
thanks gre_hunt.. further advice is always appreciated.. whats ur total gre score..

09-15-2007, 05:01 PM
thanks alot! good advice for international students!

09-16-2007, 04:42 PM
any more tips? ^_^

02-11-2009, 09:00 AM
I'm not so convinced about that "flexible examples" part. Does it mean we should always prepare some kind of panacea for contingent situations?

03-04-2009, 04:58 PM
THX, it's really informative. Especially for sb. who are using English as second language. I'm still a little bid confused about the coming exam 20 days later. I'm going to take the split test.

03-05-2009, 09:41 PM
I would like to reinforce gre_hunt's point regarding vocabulary. I have read many, many awa attempts in this forum (and commented on a few) and the one thing that stands out the most is the awkward use of vocab. I am a native english speaker and, at least to me, it feels like an attempt to compensate for any misgivings you have with your language usage. Also, it gives an impression that you are unsure of your ideas. Majority of those I've read convey an excellent and impressive command of English usage. Be confident and don't fret the small slip ups. Basically, ideas are where the points come from and you don't want to distract the reader from your ideas.

Also, the 5 par. structure is A MUST. It keeps things organized and the ideas flowing throughout the essay. Trust me on this, I spent 3 yrs in law school and 4 yrs at university being forced over and over to use this format. They LOVE this method here as much as apple pie and baseball!!!

Finally, for each and every sentence you write, ask yourself WHY is this sentence important, pertitent to what I am trying to tell the reader IN THIS PAR--do NOT talk about anything from other paragraphs. For ex.--does this sentence state my main idea, is it an example or evidence of the main idea, does it justify the main idea, why does the reader need to know this? On the other hand, if its only purpose is to better explain your main idea then 1 or 2 things are wrong--(1) Your main idea is not clearly stated or is too broad in scope and you should go back and make it clearer or narrow it down; (2) the sentence serves no purpose but to restate your main idea, which makes it superfluous and you will sound too wordy. Just keep asking why, why, why, why......

One last tid-bit. In reading through the ETS examples on PP, I noticed that one difference b/w a 5 and 6 was the 6s indented the first line of each paragraph. Seems like a silly thing, but they have clearly made a point of identifying this so I would do it.